A malicious Android app that downloads itself from advertisements posted on forums strongly resists removal, security firm Zscaler warns.
The dodgy Android utility poses as “Ks Clean”, an Android cleaner app. Once installed, the app displays a fake system update message in which the only option presented to the user is to select the “OK” button, giving victims little immediate option other than to accept a supposed security update.
As soon as the user presses “OK”, the malware prompts the installation of another APK named “Update”. The Update app asks for administrator privileges which, if granted, can’t be revoked.
The app uses the insidious mask of a “security update” to get a user to complete the installation.
After that, there is nothing to stop malware from slinging pop-up ads at victims even when the user is using other apps. Users would be unable to easily uninstall the app using the traditional “Uninstall” option because it has admin rights.
This is a “security update”. It’s for your own good
and you must comply. [source Zscaler blog post]
Zscaler has identified over 300 instances of malicious APKs from this campaign affecting users in US and UK over the last two weeks, including an attack on a conspiracy forum called “GodLikeProductions”.
“On one such forum we found entitled ‘GodLikeProductions’, visitors complained about the automatically downloading app, but those messages were either removed or ignored by the forum’s hosts, allowing the problem to perpetuate,” Zcaler reports. ®
As per the chargesheet, Jiah had left the house of Sooraj on morning of the incident.
MUMBAI: In a setback to the prosecution in the actress Jiah Khan death case, the CBI told a Mumbai court that it was not possible to retrieve Blackberry messages exchanged between her and her actor-boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi who is accused of abetting her suicide. Jiah was found hanging in her flat in Mumbai on June 3, 2013. She was 25. Her mother, Rabiya, had moved an application last month seeking access to the Blackberry messages exchanged between her daughter and Sooraj. As per the reply filed in the court by special CBI prosecutor Rajendra Bhatnagar on Monday, Sooraj’s mobile phone was sent to forensic laboratory where experts said the messages could not be retrieved.
Meanwhile, state-appointed special public prosecutor Dinesh Tiwari told the court that Rabiya’s application should be treated as a plea moved by the prosecution.
However, Special judge Shaeeda Razvi said Rabiya cannot make such request as she does not have a locus standi. In October 2013, Rabiya moved the Bombay High Court alleging that Jiah had been murdered and sought a CBI probe, which was granted.
During the probe, CBI charged Sooraj (25) with abetment of suicide of Jiah.
As per the chargesheet filed in the court earlier, Jiah had left the house of Sooraj on morning of the incident. According to the CBI, Sooraj, son of actor couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, had hidden facts and fabricated information during his questioning.
The forensic analysis of Sooraj’s statements, which is part of the chargesheet, has “established that Sooraj was concealing relevant information about the actual reason behind the incident and the statement given by him is incomplete and fabricated,” the CBI had said.
Sooraj had refused to be part of any scientific tests like polygraph or brain mapping which the agency wanted to conduct on him.
According to the CBI, Jiah had purportedly written a suicide note wherein she narrated about her intimate relationship, physical abuse and mental and physical torture allegedly experienced at the hands of Sooraj.
The three-page note was seized by the Mumbai police on June 10, 2013.
The unsigned letter, however, was not addressed to Sooraj.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Microsoft peddles laptops. Google touts services such as collaborative calendars and spreadsheet-making software. After building their businesses on products that students use, it’s not surprising that tech giants—from actual computer companies to other Silicon Valley darlings like Salesforce and Netflix—are wedging their way into education itself, especially as the US market for education technology is predicted to bloom to $21 billion by 2020. Most tech leaders are getting in by making learning apps, donating to policy campaigns, or partnering with individual schools.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a slightly different, and much more audacious, idea.
Zuckerberg’s goal is for “a billion students” across the world to be able to learn on their own, via software that his company helps build, with teachers merely looking over their shoulders. As the New York Times (paywall) describes it it:
It’s a conception that upends a longstanding teaching dynamic. Now educators are no longer classroom leaders, but helpmates. In public remarks and Facebook posts, Mr. Zuckerberg has described how it works. Students cluster together, working at laptops. They use software to select their own assignments, working at their own pace. And, should they struggle at teaching themselves, teachers are on hand to guide them.
In 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, announced they will eventually give 99% of their Facebook shares to—among a few other causes—transforming education through technology. Their organization to accomplish that aim, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said in March that it will offer a free online software for customizing classroom instruction by the end of the year. The tool “empowers teachers to customize instruction to meet their students’ individual needs and interests”—but its ultimate aim is to have teachers serve as mentors and evaluators, not instructors.
“It’s time for our generation-defining public works,” Zuckerberg said during his graduation speech at Harvard last month. “We can fix this. How about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online, and personalizing education so everyone can learn?”
Of course, these plans are still more dreams than reality. What Zuckerberg hasn’t done so far is lay out his organization’s detailed path to those lofty goals.
In a new development, digital payment service Paytm has now introduced another service on its platform easing every day payment hassles. The platform now has an option to pay traffic challans online. This service is now live in Mumbai, Pune and Vijayawada, and will be expanded to other cities soon.
This option is currently not reflecting on the app for now in the mentioned cities, but is live on the website. If you own a vehicle, you can now use the option ‘Traffic Challan’ to pay for challans obtained for violating any kind of traffic rules. This includes everything from jumping a red light, over-speeding, not wearing a helmet, ignoring traffic signs, driving without a valid licence and so on.
Once the challan is generated against your vehicle’s registration number, log into Paytm, enter the city name, challan/ vehicle number, and choose your payment method. After verification, you can then pay for the challan online, and this will generate a digital invoice and the customer’s surrendered documents will be dispatched via postal services by the respective police department.
Speaking on the announcement, Kiran Vasireddy, Snr. Vice President – Paytm said in a statement, “Traffic challan payments in India largely happen at select counters and in cash. We are glad to partner with the state traffic police departments to enable challan payments on the go. This is a new stride in our vision to add convenience to every payment use-case in the country.”
This furthers the government’s initiative to making payments cashless, and eradicates the hassle of going to the police department for paying the challan. Plus, the documents are delivered at home, easing the otherwise cumbersome process for vehicle owners and the police.
BlackBerry Ltd said on Wednesday it has developed new software for running complex computer systems on vehicles, giving the once dominant smartphone maker a leg up in a burgeoning segment of the technology market.
The company declined to name any automakers who plan to use the technology, but senior BlackBerry executive John Wall said “multiple” car companies have started incorporating it into onboard computer systems of vehicles that are currently in development.
BlackBerry touted the product, the QNX Hypervisor 2.0, as a way to make vehicles more secure from hacking, saying it can isolate multiple systems to run on a single piece of silicon, allowing them to isolate functions critical to safety from systems that are exposed to wireless networks.
“Think of a house, and a burglar getting into a room. So even if the burglar does get into that room, the door is locked, he can’t get out of that room. And even if he can get into the hallway, the other rooms are locked,” Wall, the head of BlackBerry’s QNX division said in a teleconference with reporters.
QNX has a strong position in the market for internet-connected car infotainment systems, and is looking to boost sales by expanding into more of the vehicle.
The automotive industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the technology market, as automakers race to add more autonomous features and ultimately seek to build self-driving cars.
Qualcomm Inc said the new hypervisor is compatible with its Snapdragon 820Am automotive processor, enabling carmakers to reduce hardware complexity and costs by putting multiple systems on a single platform.
BlackBerry shares were little changed in morning trade. They have soared about 63 percent since late March on hopes for high sales growth from QNX and other relatively new products.
Amazon is testing ‘Ice’ smartphones running Android
These phones will come with Google apps and services
One smartphone being tested could launch around Rs. 6000 (around $97)
Amazon plans to have another go at selling its own branded smartphones.
The ecommerce giant, which killed off its Fire Phone in 2015, is working on a new lineup of smartphones branded as “Ice”, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Unlike the Fire Phone — for which Amazon focused largely on the US and a couple of other western markets — the company is eyeing emerging markets like India for selling its new phones, said the sources.
Amazon’s upcoming smartphones run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system with Google Mobile Services (GMS) such as Gmail and Google Play, the people said.
Incorporating Google Mobile Services in its devices is a major change in strategy for Amazon, which currently offers a range of Android tablets without Google apps on them.
The smartphones are being referred to as ‘Ice’ internally, in what could be a move to distance itself from the disastrous Fire Phone brand, though it’s not clear if Amazon will eventually bring the devices under the Ice name. Amazon declined to comment.
The company plans to launch at least one smartphone in India within this year, said one source.
One of the devices being tested features a display between 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch. Other specifications of the phone include a 13-megapixel rear-camera, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The phone runs Android 7.1.1 and comes with Google’s AI Assistant, said a source cited above. The phone, which houses a Snapdragon 435 SoC and a fingerprint scanner on the back, is likely to be priced at around Rs 6,000 (roughly $93), though the exact price will depend upon the time of launch.
The person, who has seen and used the device, said the phone didn’t have Alexa on it. Alexa is Amazon’s AI-powered digital assistant that you can find on Echo speakers, as well as some refrigerators and other consumer devices.
The phone runs a software build that isn’t finalised yet, and Alexa could make it to the device by the time of launch, the person said.
Neither Alexa nor Echo speakers are available in India just yet. The company, however, is seemingly working on bringing Alexa-powered speakers in the country, recent job listings by the company suggest.
It’s not clear when Amazon began working on ‘Ice’ phones. The company had launched Android-powered Fire Phone in 2014. But after receiving a dull response from the market — reportedly selling under 35,000 units — a year later the company said it had sold all Fire Phone inventory and that it won’t be “replenishing the stock.”
Many customers who did end up purchasing the device weren’t pleased with the Fire Phone. Though Amazon maintains its own Android app store, the lack of Google apps on the Fire Phone emerged as a deal-breaker for many.
But for Amazon, which is increasingly looking at new areas for expansion, having a stake in the smartphone space is still important, analysts say.
“Part of Amazon’s challenge overall is that beyond e-commerce its ecosystem is still pretty weak, especially outside the US and a couple of other markets. And it’s typically also relegated to a secondary role on devices which come with either Apple or Google services (or in some cases Samsung’s or other OEMs’) integrated,” says Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.
“So creating its own line of phones where Amazon apps and services are pre-installed and tightly integrated could be a great way to spread its ecosystem in those markets,” Dawson told Gadgets 360, arguing that for Amazon having tighter integration of its apps on the device is more crucial than assuming control of the operating system itself.
“This new strategy targets a very different market from the Fire Phone, and so it requires a different approach (and arguably this approach would have been much better for the Fire Phone too),” he added.
The phones could also benefit Amazon in its AI efforts. “It’s a move that will help Amazon get hold of the massive data channelised through smartphones that can serve as fodder for their AI engine,” Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research told Gadgets 360.
But even for Amazon, which has committed more than $5 billion in investment to the India market, selling its own phones could prove challenging, Dawson said. The company has yet to prove that there is a need for its phones in the market. And it doesn’t help when you’re competing with an army of Chinese manufacturers operating on razor-thin margins.
HTC introduced the “U” smartphone line back in January with the U Ultra and U Play handsets, and those were just a taste of what the company had coming. The U11 is HTC’s newest flagship and follow-up to last year’s HTC 10, and it looks significantly different from last year’s device. With an all-glass back and no headphone jack, the U11 chooses which of the typical flagship design choices it wanted to keep and forgoes others. It supports Google Assistant as well as HTC’s own Sense Companion AI, with Amazon Alexa support coming soon after it ships in the US on June 9. The HTC 10 was one of our favorite flagship smartphones last year, and the U11 is a thoughtful upgrade from that, even if its design is polarizing.
The U11 smartphone looks and feels flashier than the HTC 10, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. Ars’ Ron Amadeo appreciated the simple yet solid metal design of HTC’s 2016 flagship, but the company certainly deviated from that blueprint with this device. The U11 has an all-glass back that makes it strikingly shiny but also a wild collector of fingerprints. That shine complements the bold colors it comes in (red, sapphire, silver, and black), but every time it catches your eye, you’ll be compelled to wipe down the phone.
SPECS AT A GLANCE: HTC U11
5.5″ 2560×1440 LCD
Android 7.1.1 with HTC Sense
Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, up to 2.45GHz
64GB (expandable up to 2TB with microSD card)
802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
Rear: 12MP HTC UltraPixel 3, UltraSpeed AF, OIS, f/1.7, 4K video recording
Front: 16MP front camera
153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm (6.05 x 2.98 x .31 inches)
169 g (5.96 ounces)
3000 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0
Edge Sensor, fingerprint sensor, ambient light sensor, G-sensor, gyro-sensor, voice commands with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Motion Launch
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has an all-glass design, and while glass is pretty, it’s not as durable as metal, especially for devices that you use and abuse every day. The U11’s back is the main glass part of the handset, and technically the device still has a unibody design—you just can’t tell by the placement of the glass as it sits atop the aluminum underneath. The bold back colors aren’t built into the glass, but rather they slide underneath the glass, so they won’t fade as some metal finishes can with time and use. They can’t be scratched off either.
The handset’s aluminum body peeks through on its sides where the few buttons and connectivity options live: on the right are the power button and volume rocker, on the top lies the SIM/microSD card slot, and on the bottom is the single USB Type-C port. You can’t see them, but eight tiny pressure sensors are hidden in the device’s lower sides—those are the sensors you “squeeze” to activate Edge Sense features and apps, which we’ll discuss more in a later section. The handset is IP67 water-resistant, and Edge Sense can even be used when the device is wet.
The screen and front panel are where the U11 looks a bit dated. Hugging the 5.5-inch, 2560×1440 display are chunky top and bottom bezels and a set of hardware navigation buttons. This is a stark contrast from recent flagship designs that favor paper-thin bezels to allow maximum screen space. The typical Android back and app-drawer capacitive buttons are on either side of the physical home button/fingerprint sensor. This is another contrast, as both new Android smartphones and iPhones have started to move away from physical home buttons.
One similarity the U11 has with the iPhone 7 is the lack of headphone jack. Included in the box is a USB Type-C-to-3.5mm audio jack, so you can connect your wired headphones to the device with the adaptor. HTC also includes its own headphones in the box that have active noise cancelling; thanks to power over USB Type-C, the headphones don’t need their own battery to provide active noise cancelling.
The U11’s most interesting feature is Edge Sense, or the squeezable nature of the handset. When holding the device naturally with one hand, you can squeeze both sides to initiate an action. Edge Sense has two customizable pressure points—a short squeeze or a long squeeze. Upon setting up the feature, you’re asked to adjust the pressure level for your own hand. For example, the natural amount of pressure I put on the device’s edges is different from what my boyfriend would, so you can set up Edge Sense to recognize a base level of pressure that feels natural for you. After setting it up on my review unit, Edge Sense worked well in that my squeezes were always recognized and software never mistook grabbing and handling of the smartphone for a squeeze.
At any time, you can use the Edge Sense settings to customize short- and long-squeeze actions. These are your current options: bring up the camera app, take a screenshot (my personal favorite), launch HTC Sense Companion, launch an app of your choosing, start an instant voice recording, turn on your Wi-Fi hotspot, or turn on the flashlight. Those are all practical uses for Edge Sense, and the ability to set it to bring up any app you want is convenient.
HTC told Ars that convenience is the main idea behind Edge Sense. The company wanted to address the ergonomic issues plaguing large smartphones (not being able to reach all your apps with one hand, etc.) without compromising the seamlessness of the device. HTC didn’t want to add another button to the edge of the U11, like Samsung did on the Galaxy S8 with its dedicated Bixby button. So the company found a different solution that would allow more functionality without cluttering the device’s sides.
As mentioned above, Edge Sense works even when the U11 is wet, since it’s all based on the pressure of your hand. Since it doesn’t recognize the presence of skin either, Edge Sense will also work when you’re wearing gloves. Even if you put a case over the U11, you can go back into the Edge Sense settings and adjust the pressure sensitivity so the feature works even while the case is on.
Overall, I enjoyed using Edge Sense more than I thought I would. I appreciate this design choice over adding another button or two to the sides of the U11, and I appreciate even more that it’s fully customizable. Unlike Samsung’s Bixby button that really only has one use, HTC’s Edge Sense can be what you want it to be. If you’re not a huge fan of Edge Sense, you can turn it off as well—and since there are no extra physical buttons, you won’t even know Edge Sense exists if you disable it entirely.
The solid 12MP rear camera and 16MP front-facing camera from the HTC 10 have carried over to the U11. Most of the pictures I took outside in natural light are bright and full of color. With photos taken in sunlight on the HTC 10, colors sometimes appeared gray and washed-out, but that didn’t happen as much on the U11. There were a few times when the camera brightened the sunlight a bit too much, producing colors that weren’t as rich as those produced by the Galaxy S7 Edge—but instances of that issue were few and far between. Low-light photos continue to be noticeably brighter than those taken with the S7 Edge.
The app drawer is pretty cluttered when you boot up the U11 for the first time. Many of the pre-installed apps are Google products, but a number of HTC apps are squeezed in as well: Boost+ for optimizing power and managing apps, HTC Help for troubleshooting, Themes for decorating your phone’s UI, and the like. Having so many apps already installed on the device before you even get to customize it is annoying, but the good news is that most of them can be uninstalled easily.
The biggest piece of HTC software on the U11 is the Sense Companion AI, which learns about you, your interests, and your phone habits to provide all kinds of suggestions, like where to go to dinner, with whom to share a photo, and which apps to delete.
As you use the U11, the AI learns how you use your phone, and a small blue orb will float into the display when it has a suggestion for you. You can also go into the HTC Sense Companion app to see a full list of the most recent suggestions if you tend to ignore the orb. Those tips are presented much like Google Now info cards are, with little doodles and text with information like traffic updates, weather changes, and more.
On a smartphone that supports both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, I don’t see much use for the tips provided by Sense Companion. I could just as easily ask Google Assistant or Alexa for traffic updates using voice commands, so using Sense Companion for information like that borders on pointless.
Where HTC’s AI comes in handy is for device optimization: HTC told Ars that Sense Companion may tell you that you have 20 apps on your U11 that you haven’t used in a month and suggest deleting them so you have more space. Over time, Sense Companion will also be smart enough to remind you to charge your smartphone during free times of the day when you have a busy schedule. Allowing Sense Companion access to your calendar will help it understand your schedule and suggest times to charge up on days when you have back-to-back meetings.
A note about Amazon’s Alexa: our review unit didn’t have Alexa yet. According to HTC, U11 devices will receive Alexa through an update to the Alexa Android app. Unlike Huawei’s integration with Alexa, you won’t need to open an app to access Amazon’s virtual assistant—the wake word “Alexa” will be enough to trigger a response. But the Alexa app will be necessary to configure and personalize the virtual assistant. Our review unit had Google Assistant only, which you can access by saying “OK Google” or long-pressing the home button.
A great feature that HTC brought over from the HTC 10 is adoptable storage. Introduced in Android 6.0, this feature lets the device “merge” internal and microSD card storage. The U11 comes with 64GB of onboard storage, but with the help of a microSD card, it could mimic a handset with up to 2TB of internal storage. After inserting a microSD card, you just have to go into the device settings and format the card’s storage as internal. Then the system will move apps and programs around as needed automatically, rather than making you manually choose where everything needs to be.
Software and security updates
The U11 has the April 1, 2017 security patch and will receive Android O, but HTC didn’t say when. The company also told Ars that smaller updates will depend on “carrier lab approval, scale, and urgency of the update.” Our review unit is a U11 on Sprint, and HTC says that model will get its first update at the end of this month or early July.
The U11 ships with the latest version of Android, which is great, especially since Samsung’s and LG’s flagships don’t (the S8 and the G6 ship with Android 7.0). But in the past, HTC’s major Android updates have been quite carrier-dependent. The unlocked HTC 10 received Nougat three months after the software’s initial launch, while the T-Mobile model waited five months for it. Updates only got worse from there, with the Sprint model waiting six months and the Verizon model waiting seven months for Nougat.
If you want the fastest update to Android O in the future, you should probably go with the unlocked version of the U11. Otherwise, it’s hard to say when your model will get the latest version of Android.
Even worse for HTC is the uncertainty of its security updates. There’s no guarantee that all U11 models will receive every security update in a timely fashion. Not only is that terrible in comparison to Samsung, LG, and Google, which all provide monthly security updates to their flagships, but HTC has also had legal troubles in the past surrounding this issue. In 2013, the FTC reached a settlement with HTC that required the company to patch notable security holes in millions of its Android smartphones and tablets. HTC is subject to a security review for 20 years after that settlement as well.
Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday directed authorities to remove encroachments on 29 major roads.
These roads include the stretch from ITO to Vikas Marg, M. B. Road cut to IGNOU crossing, Khajuri Chowk to Chilla border on Pusa Road, Nizamuddin to Badarpur Flyover on Mathura Road, Aurobindo Marg, C.D.R. Chowk to petrol pump on Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, Sarita Vihar red light to Kalindi Kunj Flyover, Chirag Dilli crossing to Savitri Flyover and Vijay Nagar to Burari.
The L-G also asked all civic bodies to crackdown on temporary encroachments such as parked vehicles, and penalise contractors of local bodies who were allowing such parking on roads.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Mr. Baijal and attended by Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain, Chief Secretary M.M. Kutty and Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ajay Kashyap.
The move comes within a week of the Delhi High Court ordering removal of encroachment from pavements on a permanent basis.
The L-G has directed each agency concerned to draw up an action plan within three days to remove encroachment from roads. He also ordered that removal of encroachments and road blocks be videographed.
Mr. Baijal directed all agencies to finish the work within three weeks.
“The L-G directed the Urban Development Department to be the nodal department by creating a special cell, which will monitor stretch-wise action taken by the local bodies on a weekly basis,” the L-G Office said in a statement.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium was launched earlier this week
The Xperia XZ Premium price in India is Rs. 59,990
The flagship smartphone will go on sale on June 12
Sony is known for its well-built and good looking smartphones and its latest smartphone is no exception. Sony on Thursday launched its premium device Xperia XZ Premium which does true justice to its ‘Premium’ moniker. To say the least, the smartphone bears a premium price tag of Rs. 59,990, which goes in line with the specifications this smartphone has to offer. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium comes with features like 4K HDR display, a camera with 960fps video recording capability, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a reflective mirror-like ‘loop surface’ design with a 2.5D curved glass finish protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Currently listed for pre-orders on Amazon.in, the smartphone will be available in the country starting June 12.
Gadgets360 got a chance to spend some time with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium at its launch event earlier this week, and here are our first impressions.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Design
Let’s start with the most noticeable aspect of the smartphone, design. The first glance Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s front panel will remind you of other recent Xperia smartphones. However, this one comes with its own distinct identity, as it also bears a ‘glass loop surface’ that is quite reflective. Also on the front is the 2.5D curved glass panel with Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It will not be an exaggeration if we say that Xperia XZ Premium can even be used as a mirror. In our opinion, the reflective look was a bit too gaudy, but, it’s a personal opinion and the look may be suitable for some.
Unfortunately, the reflective design doesn’t just stop at aesthetics. With ‘glass loop surface’, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is immensely slippery and it attracts fingerprints very easily – leading you to keep cleaning it now and then. If you want to save yourself from this extra care, a back cover can possibly be used, however it will conceal the premium looks of the device.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium follows the design principle of its Xperia siblings to have a fingerprint sensor embedded on the power button on the right panel of the smartphone. Below it are the volume rockers. This kind of setup was last seen on Sony Xperia XZs and Xperia Z5, so there’s nothing new here. We found the fingerprint scanner worked well enough to unlock the device instantly, and its placement on the power button was convenient enough. On the top of the device, Sony has gone the traditional way of providing the 3.5mm audio jack, while the latest USB Type-C port can be found at the bottom. The right side of the smartphone also carries a dedicated camera button, while the left side is dominated by just the combined SIM card and microSD card slot.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium has a firm grip considering its 7.9mm thickness, but its 191-gram weight makes it a little too hefty for prolonged usage. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium comes with dust and water resistance, which is a great addition. We will reserve our thoughts about the ergonomics of the smartphone until our detailed review.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Display
The display technology used in the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is claimed to be the same one as used on the company’s BRAVIA televisions. The company boasted a lot about the display of the smartphone at the launch event. It’s a 5.5-inch 4K (2160×3840 pixels) HDR display. Since most of the apps and content available today for smartphones are still in full-HD resolution, you won’t notice the real capability of the display, until you open images and videos shot in 4K UHD on the smartphone. The images and videos look crisp with a vibrant colour gamut. The Sony Xperia XZ Premium has a vivid colour display that offers good legibility even in bright sunlight, and we had no complaints on this front in our time spent with the smartphone.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium Camera and Performance
One of the highlighted features of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is its Motion Eye camera technology that has been incorporated into the rear 19-megapixel shooter. The 19-megapixel rear camera is capable of shooting slow-motion videos at 960fps (frames per second), which is far ahead of the competition, many of which max out at 240fps. Sony has equipped a three-stage CMOS image sensor to make its 960fps slow-motion recording possible.
We shot quite a few slow-motion videos in our limited time with the smartphone, and we were impressed by the results. Again, we will reserve our final judgement on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s camera until our review. Inside the camera app, there are two options in a dedicated toggle for slow-motion recording. Either the entire video can be recorded in slow-motion, or a normal-paced video can be shot intermittently with the slow-motion mode as per your preference. The camera app is pretty standard in terms of features like a manual mode, Superior Auto mode, Panorama, and 4K video mode.
Coming to the front-facing camera, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s 13-megapixel camera seemed capable enough, but, we’ll have to reserve our judgement about the quality of the output for our detailed review.
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the first smartphone that comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in India. Talking about the performance, the smartphone is quite responsive without any issues while multitasking. The device packs 4GB of RAM with 64GB of inbuilt storage, which is expandable using microSD card (up to 256GB). While the device did not give any issues with performance and multitasking, we would know its actual performance capabilities after the benchmark tests.
Sony has packed the Xperia XZ Premium with the latest Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It supports dual-SIM cards, both Nano-SIM, with 4G VoLTE support and High-Res audio feature. It is powered by a 3230mAh battery under the hood that supports Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Sony has provided ‘Stamina Mode’ to monitor the battery usage while saving it at the same time. Now, keeping in mind the 4K HDR display, the battery may have a very hard time providing enough juice, but, we can only detail its real-life performance in our review. The smartphone ships with a quick charger, which is claimed by the company to charge 60 percent of the battery in just 45 minutes.
Sony’s new smartphone declares a challenge to most current flagship with the ‘Premium’ in its name. At its price, it will compete with the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8+, LG G6, Google Pixel, and Google Pixel XL. As far as the price is concerned, the smartphone does not seem to fall short of its claims, as it does indeed offer top-of-the-line specifications and a premium body. In the meantime, companies like OnePlus and Xiaomi are gearing to launch Snapdragon 835-powered OnePlus 5 and Mi 6 respectively in the Indian market, only to make the competition among high-end smartphones more fierce.
So, is the Sony Xperia XZ Premium worth buying at its price tag? It’s too early to say. While the camera and display are its biggest highlights, its real-life performance remains to be seen on fronts. Stay tuned to catch our detailed review of Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
Disclosure: Sony sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel for the launch event.